1911 Encyclopædia Britannica/Earlston
EARLSTON (formerly Ercildoune, of which it is a corruption), a parish and market town of Berwickshire, Scotland. Pop. (1901) 1049. It is situated on Leader Water in Lauderdale, 72½ m. S.E. of Edinburgh by the North British railway branch line from Reston Junction to St Boswells, and about 4 m. N.E. of Melrose. When the place was a hamlet of rude huts it was called Arcioldun or “Prospect Fort,” with reference to Black Hill (1003 ft.), on the top of which may yet be traced the concentric rings of the British fort by which it was crowned. It is said to be possible to make out the remains of the cave-dwellings of the Ottadeni, the aborigines of the district. In the 12th and 13th centuries the Lindsays and the earls of March and Dunbar were the chief baronial families. The particular link with the remote past, however, is the ivy-clad ruin of the ancient tower, “The Rhymer’s Castle,” the traditional residence of Thomas Learmont, commonly called Thomas of Ercildoune, or Thomas the Rhymer, poet and prophet, and friend of the Fairies, who was born here about 1225. Rhymer’s Tower was crumbling to pieces, and its stones were being used in the erection of dykes, cottages and houses, when the Edinburgh Border Counties Association acquired the relic and surrounding lands in 1895, and took steps to prevent further spoliation and decay. The leading manufactures are ginghams, tweeds and shirtings, and the town is also an important agricultural centre, stock sales taking place at regular intervals and cattle and horse fairs being held every year. Some 3 m. away is the estate of Bemersyde, said to have been in the possession of the Haigs for nearly 1000 years. The prospect from Bemersyde Hill was Sir Walter Scott’s favourite view. The castle at Bemersyde was erected in 1535 to secure the peace of the Border.